Director’s Update — December 2014


Karl Kieburtz, M.D.

Every month, the CTSI Stories Blog will post excerpts from ongoing conversations with the institute’s co-directors.

Below, Karl Kieburtz reflects on the 2014 CTSI retreat, which brought together dozens of CTSI faculty and staff to discuss the institute’s future directions.

What were you hoping to accomplish at this retreat?

There are so many people involved in the CTSI that it’s hard to get everyone together in one place. So one of the things we want to do is to give everyone the chance to share in the struggle, so to speak, and to lay out what we’re best at, what the community needs us to do, and what we, collectively, think we should do.

So about 80 people were invited, and 70 came, and that stretched across leadership, faculty, staff — everyone was getting their ideas out there. Now, we’re collecting everything and concretizing it into a vision.

Any specific takeaways, or any points that stood out to you?

Right now, we have these six pillars that encompass almost everything we do, and one of those pillars is population health. One thing that got reinforced multiple times is the notion that, rather than having population health be one of the pillars, maybe it should be the overarching canopy that is held up by these five other pillars. That we, as a medium-sized city, relatively removed from other cities, have the real possibility of driving and improving the health of the population.

The Rochester area consists of a relatively small and relatively poor urban center, a relatively wealthy and successful suburban circle around that, and then a rural surrounding that is modestly poor. But we can capture all that within our health systems and research foci. So the thing that really stuck with me is taking the population health pillar and building that into everything we do. When we’re teaching, we’re teaching about that; when we’re funding, we’re funding to support that; and when we’re collaborating, we’re striving to achieve that.

It’s really a common goal across all of our pillars. Whether it remains a pillar or becomes the roof, I don’t know, but it struck me at the time and continues to stick with me.

The next CTSA RFA (request for application) was discussed extensively at the retreat. What role will that play on the CTSI’s future directions be aligned with that?

We don’t really want the funding opportunity to drive what we do, but we don’t want to be at odds with it, either. So it’s a balance, and ideally, a substantial part of what we do should make sense in the context of the funding announcement.

That said, for some things, it’s going to be very straightforward that what we’re trying to accomplish doesn’t mesh with what the NIH is looking for. So it’s possible that we try and do those things anyway, but don’t ask the NIH for funding for it. Because that’s where we’re going regardless — we want to diversify the funding streams that we have.


Previous director’s updates:

November 2014 – Nana Bennett speaks to the expansion of the role of the CTSI’s Community Advisory Council.
October 2014 – Harriet Kitzman discusses the science of team science.
September 2014 – Karl Kieburtz talks about why the CTSI is beefing up its informatics team.
August 2014 – Nana Bennett discusses the new Population Health pillar.
July 2014 – Harriet Kitzman offers her takeaways from the Mini Summer Research Institute.
June 2014 – Karl Kieburtz gives an overview of the CTSI’s six pillars.

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